James Valentine (second from left) with Maroon 5 at the 47th GRAMMY Awards in 2005
Photo: Carlo Allegri/Getty Images
Why Maroon 5 Didn't Expect To Beat Kanye West For Best New Artist
(The Recording Academy asked recipients of the Best New Artist GRAMMY to share firsthand accounts of winning one of music's biggest awards. In this installment, James Valentine details Maroon 5's win for 2004. The other artists nominated for Best New Artist at the 47th GRAMMY Awards were Los Lonely Boys, Joss Stone, Kanye West, and Gretchen Wilson.)
(As told to Paul Zollo)
I remember when the nominations were announced, we were somewhere on tour. We were always together then, always touring nonstop in those days. It was a crazy time for us. We had been on the road already for about two years when it happened.
We were trying to do something musically different at the time, something that would make us stand out. We were sort of bored with a lot of music then, so we filtered in contemporary sounds like hip-hop and R&B through the prism of a rock band.
Adam [Levine] and I both took our moms and dates [on GRAMMY] night. It was so exciting, just mind-blowing to be in that room with all those people and to be so close to not only your contemporaries but also your idols — to be surrounded by icons everywhere you look. We weren't nervous, though, because we fully did not think we would win. We were in that category with this guy named Kanye West. Everyone was sure — including us — that he would win. So we were genuinely shocked when they called our name. I remember my mom screaming next to me. I will never forget that. We will have that memory forever.
Then I remember walking up to the stage like in a dream. I remember that was one of those times I was so grateful to be in the band with someone as outgoing as Adam. I was way too nervous to speak. Thank God we had our charismatic frontman to take care of that. I was in shock. It was the first time anything like that had happened.
I got pictures of us taken offstage after getting the award. And you can see on our faces these looks of just real, pure joy. Because that award meant more to us than anything up to that point, and maybe even since then. It felt like a real vote of confidence from The Recording Academy, from our peers, from that whole musical community. And it really, at that point, felt like we'd arrived and we were part of this industry. And we have felt like that ever since.
We went from being unknown to getting a following to being GRAMMY-nominated to GRAMMY Award-winning. So that absolutely changed everything for us. We became the GRAMMY Award-winning Maroon 5. The impact of that was profound. We had been starting to get noticed, and this was a huge factor in that, part of this huge tidal wave that was happening for us at that point.
(Paul Zollo is the senior editor of American Songwriter and the author of several books, including Songwriters On Songwriting, Conversations With Tom Petty and Hollywood Remembered. He's also a songwriter and Trough Records artist whose songs have been recorded by many artists, including Art Garfunkel, Severin Browne and Darryl Purpose.)